6 Smart Tips to Help Teens Win College Scholarships

Scholarships aren’t just for high-performing, straight A students. There are thousands of scholarships that range from the traditional, academic types, to something that caters to the Zombie lover (Yes – there are actually scholarships for that!). Increase your teen’s chances of winning cash for college by passing along these tips:

Start Local

You can’t get more local than your own community. Ask your HR department at work about scholarships for family members. Also, chat with the members of your place of worship, place of employment and your friends and neighbors. Don’t forget to use your school’s resources like teachers and guidance counselors. Let everyone know you’re looking for help to pay for college and would like to apply for scholarships. A personal connection can tip the scales in your favor.

Next, search local clubs, organizations, locally owned small businesses, and benefactors. The odds of winning local scholarships are more likely, because they are open to a smaller group of students. Do a Google search for your specific state, or narrow it down further and search by city or your county of residence. Some of the best sites to search for scholarships include:

No Scholarship Too Small

Think $250 won’t make a dent in your college expenses? Small scholarships add up and could really help with books, supplies, living expenses, student fees, and more. Scholarships with smaller awards usually have fewer applicants, so your chances of winning are often higher. Winning several small scholarships can add up quickly. If you fine tune the application process and aren’t spending too much time on each one, it’s worth the effort.

Some examples of scholarships that are worth taking note include:

Be aware that there are plenty of scholarships scams out there. If you come across any sites that require cash up front, offer free seminars, give you rewards without having entered anything, or present first-come-first-served offers, stay away. These scholarships are fraudulent and you should be concerned if you’re being asked for credit card information on a scholarship application. It’s always a good idea to search Fastweb, Scholarships.com, or any of the other sites listed above to verify whether a scholarship is legit.

Get Organized

You can’t win a scholarship if you missed the deadline or left out important criteria like a recommendation letter. Once you’ve completed your search for scholarships, get a calendar or write-on board and make note of the deadlines, but make the deadline due a week or two earlier on your calendar so you’re not waiting at the last minute for your teen to submit it.

It’s a good idea to view the scholarship details from the original website, as dates can change and search engine results may not be correct. Have copies of commonly required items like SAT and ACT scores, letters of recommendation and parent’s financial info (like tax returns) handy for quick assembling.

Ugh, the Dreaded Essay

Don’t let a 1000-word essay scare your teen off. Scholarships that require more work like long essays, videos, and projects have fewer applicants, which means your chances of winning increase. Have your teen choose an essay topic that they’re passionate about. It’s always easier to showcase originality and creativity when they’re confident about the subject matter. Avoid writing about philosophical or controversial issues. Instead, have your teen use the essay to show their ability to solve problems and be honest. Suggest to your child to open with a few lines that grab attention and hold it by writing the most important information first, and close with something that is insightful or inspiring.

Unique to You

It’s always easier to apply for a scholarship in an area that you’re interested in. Your teen should make some time to apply for scholarships that appeal to their interests. Is a caramel macchiato their go-to study drink? Try the coffeeforless.com “Hit the Books” scholarship. You could win $500. Are you a natural redhead? Put your mane to good use and get $500 from scholarshipred.com. Zombie fan? Convince the scholarship judges at unigo.com that you’re ready to survive a zombie attack and get $2,000. Do you spend your free time gaming? Magic: The Gathering could get you $5,000 just by telling the judges how playing the game has impacted your life. Check out gamershelpinggamers.org for more info.

It’s All in the Details

There’s nothing worse than spending precious time on completing an application and being rejected because you didn’t read the directions thoroughly. This isn’t the time to do your own thing. If the application clearly states a 500-word essay, your teen needs to stick to it as close as possible. Have them proofread their essay a few times. Ask them to read it aloud, then have someone else read it. Make sure to check off all the requirements listed. Don’t include something that hasn’t been requested. Check everything twice. Advise them to prepare a neat and tidy package if it should be mailed, and apply the correct postage. Apply early, even if they’re submitting online. You never know when a website or your internet connection will be down.

Has your teen started applying for scholarships? What are some of the kookiest scholarships you’ve come across, and what are some of your tips for applying? Share with us!

Tags : education   college   teens   

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